The Plan of Salvation

Rev. Donald C. Elifson

Plans are very important! The plans of men involve this present world and have their place in God's economy. This is because God has commanded man to "fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28).

However, because of man's sin, he is on this earth only for a short time. Then he dies physically, and his soul (the real self) must meet a holy God to whom every human being is responsible. Every human being sinned in Adam, who was the head of the human race (Rom. 5:12-19). Also, each one has sinned personally. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Therefore, people need to be saved from their sins in order to be accepted by God into His Heaven.

First, God's plan of salvation is all by God's grace. God was not obliged to provide a plan of salvation. He did not owe anything to a rebellious human race. The epistle to the Ephesians states, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph. 2:4,5).

Because God's plan of salvation is entirely by grace, the natural man does not believe it: "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). The message of God's free grace was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the philosophical Greeks. The idea of the Son of God dying as a substitute for man's sins sounds foolish to the natural man. A plan of salvation by works and human merit sounds reasonable to the blinded sinner, but the doctrine of complete salvation by faith in Christ's blood is too good to be true. But it is too good not to be true, for apart from a plan of salvation by free grace, there is no hope for a fallen race.

Second, the plan of salvation is simple and clear as to the conditions that must be met on man's part. The plan of salvation was designed for people of all races and social status; therefore, the terms must be simple. The Apostle Paul feared that the minds of his readers would be "corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). There are some plans of men that can be understood only by experts. This is the type of reasoning that the Devil uses about the Gospel. He induces religious leaders to maintain that only they can explain the plan of salvation. They deny that any ordinary person can come to a saving knowledge of Christ by reading the Bible and being guided by the teaching of the Holy Spirit of God.

The prophet Isaiah predicted that "whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray" (Isa. 35:8). The religious leaders rebuked the children who recognized Jesus as the true Messiah. But what did Christ say to these leaders? "Have you never read, 'Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise?'" (Matt. 21:16). God has been pleased to reveal His plan of salvation to little children, according to the words of Christ in Matthew 11:25: "At that time Jesus answered and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.'"

Third, the plan of salvation was eternally in the mind of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ claimed that the hour of His death was appointed from all eternity. This fact is very evident in the 17th chapter of the Gospel according to John. In the book of Acts the Apostle Peter asserted that Jesus Christ was "delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" to be crucified and raised from the dead (Acts 2:23,24).

The Apostle Paul taught the Corinthians that there is no wisdom like God's wisdom. "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:7,8).

The believer's salvation is not according to his works but according to God's own purpose and grace, which was given to believers before the world began. In time, Jesus Christ came and abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. This eternal plan, executed by the Lord Jesus Christ, is to be preached no matter how great the opposition and persecution (2 Tim. 1:9-12). This great plan should be known by everyone, because it was formulated by the great Triune God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Fourth, the Father's role in the plan was to send His Son: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14). In order to send His Son, the Father prepared a physical body for Jesus Christ. The epistle to the Hebrews, quoting from the book of Psalms, states: "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said, 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me'" (Heb. 10:5). Christ was to take a body in order to be a sacrifice that would cleanse His people: "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10). The Father promised to raise His Son from the dead: "For you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption" (Acts 2:27). He also promised to seat Christ at His right hand: "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool" (Heb. 10:12,13).

Fifth, the Son's role was to become a servant and be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). Even at the age of twelve, Jesus told Mary and Joseph, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). In Christ's prayer to His Father, recorded in John chapter seventeen, Christ said that He gave the Father's words to the disciples: "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me" (John 17:7,14).

The son came to be the Redeemer, according to Ephesians 1:7: "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Our Lord Jesus Christ finished the work of redemption when He cried "It is finished" (John 19:30). Christ alone is the mediator between sinful man and a holy God: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).

Sixth, the role of the Holy Spirit in God's plan of salvation is to apply the merits of Christ's death and resurrection to human beings. Christ predicted what the Holy Spirit would do when He came: And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). The sin that the Holy Spirit reproves is the sin of not believing on Christ. Righteousness has been provided because Christ has gone back to the Father. The cross was the judgment of Satan, the prince of this world. The Holy Spirit does many things simultaneously when He applies the work of Christ to the human soul. He anoints (1 John 2:27), He regenerates (John 3:5), He baptizes into Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), He seals (Eph. 1:13), and He indwells (Eph. 2:22).

Last of all, the Scriptures reveal man's part in God's plan of salvation. Man's responsibility is to believe the record that God has given concerning His Son. God has done all that could be done on His part in regard to the plan of salvation. Now He commands that his plan should be preached, and when people hear the Gospel they are to believe: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). Salvation cannot be obtained apart from faith: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). The Scriptures declare that a person is justified by faith in Christ's blood (Rom. 3:25). God requires that a person abandon every other plan of salvation and trust alone in Jesus Christ as the way to God (John 14:6).

In contrast to the plans of men--which have failed and will fail--God's plan is effective. This plan works every time any sinner will believe it. The Apostle Paul asserts: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16). That "everyone" in this text includes Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, learned and ignorant. No one is lost because there is no plan of salvation. A person is lost because He does not believe the only plan of salvation that can save him from his sins. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

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